Sunday, July 8, 2018

More McKinstry History

A comment on the post that shared Tremaine McKinstry's letter to his aunt inspired me to want to confirm where the  McKinstrys lived and to connect the information in that post with things I discovered about the McKinstrys a year ago. This started out as a footnote but grew beyond that. 

In 1918, when Tremaine McKinstry was training to be a pilot in the U.S. Army Air Service, he was 26 years old. He was already married and had an infant daughter. The 1920 census indicates that he, his wife Helen V., and a daughter named June, then 2 years and 10 months old, lived at 83 Glenwood Blvd., an address that no longer appears in the tax rolls.

Tremaine's parents, George and Julia, lived at 83 Green Street, at the bottom of McKinstry Place. The map of this part of Hudson from the 1888 Beers Atlas shows that the street we now know as McKinstry Place more or less follows the southern border of the property that once belonged to Tremaine's grandfather, Augustus McKinstry.

Augustus McKinstry's house was in the northeast corner of the property. A document found on indicates Augustus McKinstry's property comprised seven acres, which were used for agriculture, principally orchards. From 1892, city directories indicate that his son, George McKinstry, Tremaine's father, lived at the opposite corner of the McKinstry land, in this once Queen Anne house at 83 Green Street.

Of interest, too, is where Tremaine's Aunt Nellie, the recipient of the letter, lived, but first, some information about Nellie McKinstry. 

In April 1882, Nellie McKinstry, Augustus and Ellen McKinstry's third child, married F. Carroll Hankes, who was described in the newspaper report of their marriage as "one of our most prominent young business men."

Hankes was in the fire insurance business, but he was also an accomplished illustrator. The item that appeared in the Columbia Republican on March 14, 1883, reports that he had been hired to make sketches for an "illustrated paper called Time."

Driven by health issues (he had suffered a "paralytic stroke" in his late thirties, thought to have "dimmed the brilliant faculties of his mind") or the economic depression then happening in the country (the Panic of 1893, followed by the Panic of 1896), Hankes tragically committed suicide early in 1898, at the age of 41. The following is the beginning of the report that appeared in the Hudson Daily Register on January 8, 1898.

The report of his death provides this synopsis of his professional life: 
After careful preparation, Mr. Hankes entered the fire insurance business and for years prospered. He was an expert penman and at one time he was considered the second best engrossing [sic] artist in the State. He was a fine water-color artist and was highly accomplished in many ways, and inherited a small fortune on the death of his parents.
The report also provides the information that he had "for some time past" been living in Newark, New Jersey, but had recently moved to Chicago. At the time of her husband's death, Nellie McKinstry Hankes and their daughter, Ellen, then 14, were living with Nellie's parents at 886 Columbia Street.

After her mother died in January 1905, Nellie and her daughter moved in with Nellie's younger sister, Susanna, who had married William Gray, the proprietor of R. Gray's Sons furniture store at 547-549 Warren Street, and lived at 95 Green Street in a house that was built around 1896 on part of Augustus McKinstry's extensive property. Susanna is the "aunt Sue" to whom Tremaine, in his letter, asks Nellie to give his love.

William and Susanna Gray's home at 95 Green Street figured in a post from a year ago because it was the site, on May 7, 1917, of a Woman Suffrage Party meeting.


  1. I don't understand the sic after the word engrossing. Engrossing is an old fashioned word for the art of penmanship, so it is properly used in this context. As a calligrapher, I am familiar with this use. Online:Figurative sense of "absorb the whole attention" is first attested 1709. A parallel engross, meaning "to write (something) in large letters," is from Anglo-French engrosser, from Old French en gros "in large (letters)." Related: Engrossed; engrossing.

    1. The "sic" was added because I feared that most readers would not have knowledge of the meaning of the word you just explained. I must confess that I was unaware of it, and a search on the internet did not offer a meaning that made sense in this context. (I should have gotten out the OED, but, alas, I didn't.) Although you imply that "sic" signals an error, IMO it simply means "thus I found it." Thank you, Cynthia, for enlightening us all.